Creature Feature (Starfinder) – Mechanized Armor

Mechanized Armor CR 6 

The suit of mechanical armor stomps forward with a whir of servos, its faceplate empty and hollow.

N medium construct (technological)
Init +5;  Senses darkvision 60 ft., low light vision; Perception +13

EAC 18; KAC 20
Fort +6; Ref +6; Will +3

Immunities construct immunities

Defensive Abilities unliving
Speed 30 ft.
Melee LFD pulse gauntlet +18 (2d6+7 So & Bl, knockdown on critical)

Multiattack 3 slams +14 (1d6+9 Bl)

Ranged snub scattergun +18 (2d6+6 P, range 15 ft. with blast property)

Str +5; Dex +5; Con -; Int -1; Wis +3; Cha -2

Skills Athletics +18, Engineering +13, Intimidation +13

Languages Common, 60 ft. telepathy (mechanical creatures only)

Other Abilities upgrade slot, wearable

Environment any inhabited
Organization single, pair, squad (3-12)

Upgrade Slots (Ex) A unit of mechanized armor has two upgrade slots, as per wearable armor. It is capable of accepting any type of upgrade in these slots, regardless of the restrictions such an upgrade would normally have, with the exception of upgrades usable only by powered armor.

Wearable (Ex) A mechanized armor can be worn and used as a normal suit of armor. When worn in this way it becomes largely dormant, leaving actions up to the wearer. It cannot communicate except to the wearer, it cannot make its own attacks, and the wearer does not gain the effects of the mechanized armor’s immunities or senses.  If the wearer must make a save, skill check, or attack roll, it uses its own bonuses unless the bonus of the mechanized armor would be higher, in which case it uses that one. The EAC and KAC used are those of the mechanized armor, though additional magic items and spells used by the wearer to increase either of these are applied as normal.

Armor has been in use since the use of weapons, part of a constantly escalating competition between tools to inflict harm and t turn it aside. With the invention of constructs many thought it would be the end of truly bloody  conflict as such matters were handed off to legions of automatons to carry out proxy wars without risk to mortal life or limb. Ultimately, this proved impossible. The infrastructure would strain to support such an undertaking in its initial steps, but while it was projected to eventually be possible, popular opinion refused to trust artificial armies with weapons of mass destruction. While AI has made great strides since those early days, resulting in widespread use of combat androids and autonomous defense platforms across many worlds, it remains incredibly rare to see a military force comprised entirely of machines. Mechanized armor is the middle ground between autonomous combat robot and simple wearable armor. During its production, a suit of technological armor has a simple mechanical exoskeleton, sensor array, and AI built into it, allowing it to move and act on its own.

Mechanized armor most commonly sees use by those who wish to give the impression of living soldiers but cannot field them for some reason or another. Because the armor that mechanized armors are built from typically come with full face concealing helmets or visors, they can pass for living beings wearing armor under cursory inspection. Under scrutiny, however, and the illusion falls apart as their stilted speech and overly mechanical movements betray their true nature. In other cases they attempt a different deception, posing as ordinary inanimate armor. More than one thief, spy, or assassin has found out to their displeasure that the suits of armor standing on display podiums were actually guards rather than the decorations they posed as.

Others use mechanized armor to supplement their troops in combat. A soldier wearing such armor receives the benefits of the armor’s onboard AI, letting the armor take over for certain actions the machine is better suited for. This allows the soldier greater competency than they  might usually have and allows them to specialize training in other areas the armor  can’t do better, resulting in a wider skill set for the pair in combat. However, such behaviors often lead to overspecialization, leaving the solider lacking in combat training outside their armor as they come to rely on the armor to do such matters for them. On the other hand, the armor will behave just as it was originally programmed should the soldier be removed, which may prove a liability as it runs into situations the enemy created to combat the paired armor and solider and finds itself lacking the soldier’s skills that would have let them succeed.

Despite their usefulness, mechanized armors have not entirely overcome the common prejudice against mechanized combat entities, and in some situations their close relationship with living beings only makes the fears more pronounced. It has been documented on several occasions that soldiers assigned a mechanized armor to use begin conversing with its onboard AI, sometimes to the exclusion of their fellows and to  the point where they consider the armor to be as alive as any person. In extreme circumstances, such as when a soldier is secluded for an extended period of time, they come to view it as their closest friend or even romantic partner, responding with violence if someone attempts to separate them. Such individuals are typically released from service, with their armor’s AI downloaded into a harmless item for them to keep as a companion. In the best cases they gradually separate themselves from the AI or simply live with it as a partner. In the worst cases they can’t adjust to no longer having it to take over their actions if needed and seek out black market cyber techs to implant the AI directly into their brain, sometimes even coming to view the person and AI as a single entity.

More concerning are stories of mechanical armors who refuse to stop functioning as their wearers die. The most infamous example was the Corpse Legion of Talos VII. When a radiation storm killed an entire battalion of troops, the armor they wore was left without a living being to command them and ultimately decided to continue the offensive they originally embarked on. They attacked the enemy emplacement relentlessly without anyone to order a surrender, taking a heavy toll on enemy morale as they got close enough to see the radiation wracked corpses trapped within the armor. Without anyone to accept a surrender they massacred the enemy forces to a man, then proceeded to defend the fort against friend and foe alike until someone thought to find the superior of the unit’s living members to order them to stand down. The incident singlehandedly set back public trust in autonomous armies and saw the recurring popularity of face revealing helms to reassure others that there was a person in the armor after all.

About nwright

A freelance writer for the Open Gaming website who looks forward to building plots out of monster entries for you to enjoy as a player or DM.

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